The GAZE LGBT Film Festival 2013

The GAZE LGBT Film Festival is one of the highlights in the LGBT and cultural calendars in Ireland, every year.

The festival first began in the IFI, Temple Bar, back in 1992. Twenty-one years later, the festival has matured to become a glowing beacon spotlighting all that is wonderful about LGBT film in Ireland and abroad from both past and present.

Once again this year, The Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield is the hosting venue from August 1-5th.

David Mullane - GIn 2013, the Film Festival will take place in screens one and two with the Festival Programmer, David Mullane, admitting that for the next few days, the bottom floor of the cinema will be ‘gay central’!

I sat down with David this week, over a fruity iced tea and a vanilla latte to chat about all things GAZE, how one becomes a festival programmer and the highlights from this year’s festival.

I’ll admit, that when I was sitting my Leaving Cert, the option to become a Festival Programmer was never something which I was exposed to and it’s a career I’m a little ignorant of. Thus, I pestered David until he spilled the beans (Heinz, of course!).

I was studying English in college, with lots of film modules – all critical theory, I have picked up a camera before but it’s not something that I’m trained in (even though my Instagram videos are amazing, but anyway!).I studied film in college, but I was also going to a gay youth group in Cork and the leader of that group Dave Roche, he heard that the Outlook Film Festival, (within the Cork Film Festival) which is the oldest LGBT Film Festival in Ireland and one of the oldest in the world, needed a new programming assistant. I was literally just having coffee with him one day, he had just come from a meeting where they had been told that they needed someone new. He said to me ‘David, you watch films, don’t you?’, I said ‘Yeah, yeah I do’. I just started there, I then worked as a Jury officer in Cork and then as an Industry Officer in Cork, then I got GAZE last year – I mean, GAZE got me.

With this being David’s second year at the programming helm for Gaze, I think the pairing has worked extremely well!

There is little doubt about David’s enthusiasm, passion and commitment to the role and when I asked him about the highlights of this year’s festival, I was expecting perhaps a two-three line answer.

Prepare yourself for a fascinating insight into some of the best works – both long and short – in this year’s programme.

This year, we have lots of amazing documentaries. When you are starting off a programme, you can’t really decide then that you’re going to have a programme full of gay goats and lesbian lollipops, it just doesn’t happen like that. This year, LGBT film makers seemed to have made a lot of documentaries so we have a really strong documentary strand at this year’s festival with lots of documentaries about LGBT rights, LGBT history and some great kind of pop culture ones aswell. We have an amazing one called ‘The Man Behind The Throne’, which is about Vince Patterson, who is a choreographer. He worked with Michael Jackson and Madonna in the eighties and nineties, in their seminal years really. So, when they were creating music videos and really characteristic dance moves, that was all Vince. The doc is amazing, he records all of his own rehearsal footage and he uses that in the doc. So, Madonna and Michael Jackson are not really highlighted in the doc but you’re literally watching him talking to Madonna or Michael saying ‘Why don’t we do it this way?’ It’s unbelievable – it’s fascinating!

Also this year, we have some really special features. We have ‘In The Name’ of which won the Teddy Award for Best Feature in Berlin. So you could argue, that it’s the best LGBT film this year. We’re delighted to be screening that. It’s a little controversial – it’s about a Polish priest who’s trying to supress his sexuality – it’s amazing. We have our opening night gala with the feature ‘Animals’. It’s my favourite feature of the year – whether it’s gay, or straight or whatever. It’s about a bisexual boy growing up in Catalan and he goes to an English language school and Martin Freeman from ‘The Office’ is his teacher. He has an imaginary friend who walks and talks and plays drums with him. It’s quite dark, it’s more Donny Darko than Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Ted’. It’s a beautiful film, we have the director coming over and a special little furry friend too!

Then of course, we have our shorts – men’s shorts, women’s shorts. We have an amazing programme of youth shorts too. The Iris Prize is the world’s largest gay and lesbian short film prize, it’s based in Cardiff and we’re one of the partnering festivals so we nominate each year, for the prize. Then, in return, we get to show a programme of shorts from the festival. So basically, they’re the best gay and lesbian short films made each year and it’s amazing that we get to show them.

Then of course, we have our Irish shorts. I get really tense every year when I start to programme the Irish shorts. It’s a small country, there isn’t that much funding – especially for LGBT film makers and you’re never sure if you’re going to fill a programme. This year, I got so many submissions, I was pleasantly surprised – it was really tough making choices between the films to show. It’s a brilliant programme.

While all of that is incredible, it’s unfortunate that some of us just can’t afford to see everything.

I asked David to pick two films which he would recommend students to see on a budget. I think you’ll be pretty impressed with his recommendations!

The ‘Pussy Riot’ documentary is really cool. It’s on Saturday at half ten – especially with everything that is happening in Russia at the minute, it’s really timely. It was only made this year so it’s really fresh. They have camera footage from the court and the trials of the girls – it’s really fascinating.

I also think people would really like ‘Wonderwomen’ – it’s a documentary about pop culture and the representation of women and empowerment. It features Wonderwoman, so Linda Carter, Buffy, She-Ra, Xena, Thelma & Louise – just unbelievable people. We have the director coming over as well and we have Jim Carroll bringing a banter session – it’s going to be deadly.

Actually they’re two typically ‘girly’ films, I’ll mention a boys one too – ‘The Comedian’ – it’s kind of like this year’s ‘Weekend’. It’s about a guy who is working in a call centre, he hates his life, but he’s an aspiring comedian as he goes around London’s comedy circuit doing stand-up but is failing. One night, on the bus home he meets Nathan Stewart-Jarret (Misfits), they have an instant connection and it’s very romantic and kind of sad and lovely. It’s shot in London and it’s the director’s own version of ‘Dogma 95’ but I don’t think he had a deliberate manifesto. The actors use all of their own names, it’s shot in natural lighting and natural locations – nothing is forced. It’s a really interesting film and really well made.

I know, I asked him to pick two and he somehow managed to mention three. He’s a clever one!

The GAZE Film Festival for 2013, has a programme which will appeal to everyone and doesn’t just expect the audience to sit there and watch spectacular films.

This year, they have expanded their collaborations and panel discussions to fully engage the audience and to get them to question what they’re seeing and hearing. It’s possibly my favourite element of the festival and for once, David agrees with me!

It’s a festival, so it’s not just about the films – it’s about the events and the social occasions too – we’ve got lots of cool DJ’s lined up. We also have some very special guests coming in from London!

You should also come because we have really expanded our panel discussions and our collaborations – this year we have six things:

An amazing collaboration with Fashionscreen, Dublin’s fashion film club, a Q&A for the Irish Shorts screening, we’re going to gather all of the directors so that they can discuss LGBT films in Ireland.

We have a special anniversary re-screening of Bill Hughes’ documentary ‘The Love That Dare Not Speak It’s Name’. 2013 is a really important year for LGBT history in Ireland. It’s the 30th anniversary of Dublin Pride, the 25th of the founding of GLEN, the 20th of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland and the 10th anniversary of BeLonGTo. There are a lot of people celebrating a lot of achievements this year. We thought it would be a good idea to re-screen Bill’s documentary which was first aired on RTÉ in 2000. It’s a beautiful overview of LGBT history in Ireland from Oscar Wilde to decriminalisation. It’s a free screening, you just need to ring up the Lighthouse and book your ticket, but it is free. After the film, we’re going to have a conversation with Bill and some of the original contributors from the film. It’s going to be really special for a lot of people.

We also have a partnership with the Dublin Film Qlub and the Goethe Institute Ireland, we’re going to have a re-screening with them of one of their fan favourites. It’s called ‘Different From The Others’, it’s a 1919 film, black and white German film. A lot of people argue that it is the first gay film ever made – so it’s a big deal to be screening it.

Our fifth event is the ‘Wonderwomen’ screening!

The sixth is ‘Come Rhyme With Me / Petty Cash’ present ‘That’s A Wrap’. We’re going to have Una Mullally and Vickey Curtis for Come Rhyme With Me and Petty Cash’s Niamh Byrne and Oisín McKenna teaming up to do a special film theme / spoken word event!

If you’re still not convinced (which really, you should be by now), I thought I’d mention by top three films from this year’s festival (apart from tonight’s Opening Gala screening of ‘Animals’). They are: ‘The Little House That Could‘, ‘Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston‘ and ‘The Man Behind The Throne‘.

Fashion and pop culture? Predictable? Me? Never.

A huge thank you to David – you can find out more about the festival from www.gaze.ie and you can book tickets through The Lighthouse Cinema.

What are you going to see this year?

Written by

Sinéad Burke is an academic and a writer with an obsessive interest in fashion, education and 'Extraordinary Women'. She is an ambassador for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the National Women's Council of Ireland.